Sunday, January 24, 2016

Donald Trump Aims to Win in Iowa

From Maggie Haberman, at the New York Times, "Donald Trump Means Business in Iowa: Night in Motel, and a Day in Church":
MUSCATINE, Iowa — Donald J. Trump spent the last seven months saying he wanted to win. Now he is really acting like it.

On Thursday night, minutes after National Review published a call-to-arms cover story blasting Mr. Trump as a wrecking ball to the conservative movement, his campaign manager leaned on the Republican National Committee, which promptly dropped the magazine as a co-host of a presidential debate in February. Then Mr. Trump turned a sleepy hunting trade show into breaking national news, calling National Review “a dying paper” and excoriating his leading rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, before live television cameras.

On Friday night, the candidate who almost always flies home in his private Boeing 757 to Trump Tower in New York or to his palatial Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., instead slept in a Holiday Inn Express in Sioux City, Iowa. (“Good mattress,” he said afterward. “Clean.”)

And on Sunday morning, no doubt mindful that Mr. Cruz is counting on conservative Christians to carry him to victory in this state’s caucuses, Mr. Trump showed up for church here in eastern Iowa, with photographers trailing, sat quietly through the 60-minute service, left two crisp $50 bills in the collection plate and shook hands all around, before resuming his attack on Mr. Cruz at a news conference and rally nearby.

Classic rapid response, pragmatic logistics and overt shows of faith are all basic parts of the job of running for president. But for Mr. Trump, they have been only sporadically employed. Yet with each day, evidence accumulates that the master of the New York tabloids now grasps what it will take for him to win in Iowa, and beyond — and that he is laser-focused on doing it.

“It’s crunchtime, folks,” Mr. Trump said backstage before his rally here on Sunday. “I mean, I want to win Iowa. I really want to win it.”

It did not always seem so. At the outset in June, his candidacy was received as equal parts experiment and experimental theater — a test of an aggressively populist political message coupled with a stare-down of skeptics who treated his recurring threats to run for president as an empty play for publicity. Mr. Trump still recalls, often and with a bit of an edge, how many people predicted that he would never formally get into the race, or would prematurely get out...
Yes, in fact Ms. Haberman wrote about precisely that last October. See, "From Donald Trump, Hints of a Campaign Exit Strategy."